It's been a rough week for the Houston Rockets as a whole, who have now dropped three straight games to fall back to .500, but it's been an even more difficult week for Dwight Howard.
Howard picked up four technical fouls in the last two games, including an ejection in the fourth quarter of Saturday's loss to the Washington Wizards, his second ejection of the season. He now leads the league with 12 technical fouls.
The Rockets, however, have taken exception to the way Howard is being officiated, and have petitioned the league to rescind the four techs Dwight has received this week, according to ESPN's Calvin Watkins.
The most likely to be dropped is the one obtained in a minor incident with Wizard's forward Jared Dudley when Howard put his hands behind Dudley's neck in an attempt to explain to the officials how Dudley was fouling him. Howard told ESPN:
"I don't think he was trying to hurt me. If it were anybody else getting hit, getting grabbed around the shoulder, neck area, you know what they're going to call because it's in the rulebook. For me getting a tech for it, explaining to the ref what happened, it wasn't like I was loud. I didn't got at him. I said, 'Hey, he grabbed me around my shoulders, can you look at it?' I got a technical foul for it."
The Rockets are also upset with the way Howard was treated in a series that developed with Washington's Nene, which later had Houston coach J.B. Bickerstaff ripping the officials in a tirade of truthisms after the game.
This has long been a problem for Howard and also historically for many other physically imposing big men. Their freakish size and strength combo, even for professional athletes, is so rarely seen and can be difficult to officiate. When a player is that much stronger than everyone else, it's automatically assumed he's the one doing the fouling.
Referees can also be reluctant to call fouls committed upon a player with such a reputation of power, as if it's subsconsciously assumed that their strength makes them impervious to the numerous hacks, holds, elbows, and grabs they must deal with on a night-to-night basis.
And while it does sometimes seem that players like Howard (and in the past Shaquille O'Neal and Wilt Chamberlain) should be capable of shrugging off some of these outside-the-lines attempts at slowing them down, fouls are fouls and right is right. It's important that the league and its officials protect its big men just as much as the little guys. Wishful thinking, I know.
Bickerstaff's recent criticisms are likely to fall on def ears - Howard's been treated this way for 12 seasons, it's not about to change now - but hopefully, with the organization now involved, the Association will drop at least one of the techs from Howard's docket on the season. Remember, there's a one-game suspension after 15 technicals are accrued and an additional game for every two techs after that.
Dwight's far from a dirty player, and it'll be shame if he's the first person to nab a tech suspension on the year.